Trader Joe’s was one of the first chain grocery stores to begin selling organic food, but their products have not necessarily been eco-friendly. A vast amount of the produce that can be found at Trader Joe’s is needlessly covered in plastic, but that is about to change soon.
The company recently announced that they will be cutting down on their use of plastic, and reduce their consumption of plastic by roughly 4 million pounds each year. More than half of that plastic, 2.5 million pounds, is being cut from the produce department.
Now, many produce items that can be safely sold loose will not contain any packaging. This change will save the company a ton of money, and those savings are reportedly being noticed by customers as well.
At one Trader Joe’s location, a customer said that they found a single head of garlic for $.49, when before the same item was sold in packs of two for $1.39 before. For this item, the loss of packaging came with a 25% reduction in price, and customers say that this has happened all over the produce section.
There were some food items that just needed plastic to be kept fresh, although a statement from Trader Joe’s noted that they were seeking solutions for more eco-friendly packaging for these situations.
“The outcome of our test was not tolerable from a food-waste perspective, so we are in pursuit of alternatives. While we may not always arrive at the right solution the first time, we remain steadfast in our dedication to this important work,” the statement read.
The company also said that they will be phasing out the use of styrofoam trays and looking for a variety of different ways that they can cut down on waste in their stores.
Trader Joe’s has been keeping their customers informed about the changes through their website and on their podcast, “Inside Trader Joe’s.”
In the press release, the company explained that:
A fundamental focus of sustainability is maintaining product integrity and preventing food waste. We strive to balance the key role packaging plays in this effort with the overall impact packaging has on the ecosystem, as we approach making any changes. We are also aware that the realistic opportunities for recycling materials, along with differing understandings of what is the “best choice” for sustainability, makes this work complex. While most of the plastic in our packaging has the highest recyclability acceptance rate in the U.S., reducing the amount of plastic packaging in our stores is another important focus of our sustainability.
Trader Joe’s has also taken some other measures recently, in addition to reducing packaging and no longer offering single-use plastic bags. The company has also promised to get rid of Bisphenol A, or BPA, from their packaging.
About the Author
John Vibes is an author and journalist who takes a special interest in the counter culture, and focuses solutions-oriented approaches to social problems. He is also a host of The Free Your Mind Conference and The Free Thought Project Podcast.